Seattle Roundup: Indix, Haiku, Livemocha, WebTuner, and More
A handful of interesting local companies have raised significant capital in the last week, including Indix and Haiku Deck, and stealthy WebTuner, which added to an earlier round. Meanwhile, Rosetta Stone is buying language learning company Livemocha; apps from some Seattle companies are hitching a ride in your Bimmer; Verdiem wants to help businesses save on printing; and a new face arrives at the Keiretsu Forum Northwest. The ‘tails:
—Indix, a Bellevue, WA, and Chennai, India-based startup working on an intriguing big data application, has raised $4.5 million from Avalon Ventures and Nexus Venture Partners, adding to $1.4 million in seed funding raised previously from Nexus. Indix, founded by Microsoft veteran Sanjay Parthasarathy and four other co-founders, began with a goal of building “a new kind of search engine—a search engine for numbers,” according to an Indix company blog post. Then “we got fascinated by prices” and wondered what could be learned from an enormous, dynamic database of prices for everything. Another post suggests ways that such a database would be valuable to economists, marketers and salespeople, financial analysts, and product managers. It is this last group that the company—in stealth mode until later this year—appears to be targeting first. “What would the product manager be capable of if we gave them the data, the tools and the applications that would help them come up with new product ideas, set the right prices, manage promotions and make their offerings available to their customers in the best ways possible?… That feels like an interesting opportunity to us,” Team Indix writes.
—Haiku Deck, the Seattle startup making a free iPad App for doing attractive, simple presentations, is raising $3 million in a Series A round led by Trilogy Partnership, joined by Madrona Venture Group, Founders Co-op, and angel investors including Sarah Leary. The company, which we profiled last month, now has half a million customers, and some interesting ideas for how to make money by better serving business users frustrated with PowerPoint. Haiku Deck plans to use the funding to continue hiring as it adds other platforms and prepares a premium offering.
—Language learning giant Rosetta Stone has bought its online competitor, Seattle-based Livemocha, for $8.5 million. That’s less than half of the $19 million investors including Maveron and August Capital have poured into the company since it was founded six years ago, notes Geekwire. Rosetta CEO Steve Swad says in a statement the acquisition will “help accelerate” a transformation of the company “to be the most dynamic and ubiquitous technology-based learning platform in the world.” Livemocha, which has more than 16 million people—including large audiences in Brazil, Russia, and China—participating in its free and paid online language learning courses and forums, will remain in Seattle with CEO Michael Schutzler helping with integration and advising Swad. Schutzler assures Livemocha members that it “will continue to be the learning experience, product, and community you know and love,” but with more languages and available on more devices. Rosetta sees the Livemocha cloud platform as a way to quickly modernize its software, and to offer cheaper or free entry-level language learning products.
—WebTuner, the stealth Redmond, WA startup working on “next generation video distribution,” has added to a $7.4 million equity round it opened last September. An SEC filing shows the company, headed by Bernee Strom of InfoSpace fame, has sold another $1.3 million in equity, but it remains very quiet. Yes, its Web page is still blank.
—Drivers of newer BMWs and Minis who own iPhones can now use apps from Seattle companies Rhapsody, Glympse, and Amazon unit Audible when they hit the road. The luxury automaker announced the addition of Rhapsody’s subscription music streaming service, Glympse’s location-sharing service, and Audible’s audio books and spoken word content to the suite of BMW Approved Apps, allowing the iPhone apps to integrate with vehicle controls and systems. TuneIn, the global radio provider, was also added to the approved apps list.
—Verdiem, the Seattle IT energy management software company, is expanding to cover printers. The new software will help IT departments looking to cut printing costs identify all printers in their organizations; monitor and measure printing activity, energy use and costs; and lower printing volume and shift it to the organization’s most cost-effective machines.
—Angel investor network Keiretsu Forum Northwest has hired Nate Doran as entrepreneur director. Doran was most recently due diligence project manager with Northwest Energy Angels and an entrepreneur himself, having co-founded C6 Systems. Doran replaces Harry Lee.